MOSCOW (Reuters) – Suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter criticised UEFA’s Michel Platini, England and the United States for attacking him in an interview with Russia’s TASS news agency in which he praised Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Blatter is serving a 90-day suspension imposed by FIFA’s Ethics Committee which is looking into a two-million Swiss francs payment he made to Platini in 2011 – a case which is also part of a Swiss criminal investigation.
Blatter, who has been president of FIFA since 1998, said politics was behind “attacks” on him which followed the indictment of 14 soccer officials and sports marketing executives by U.S prosecutors in May.
“At the beginning it was only a personal attack. It was Platini against me. He started it, but then it became politics,” said the 79-year-old Swiss in the interview published on Wednesday.
“And when it is in politics, it is not any longer Platini against me. It is then those who have lost the World Cup. England against Russia. They lost the World Cup. And the USA lost the World Cup against Qatar.
“But you cannot destroy FIFA. FIFA is not the Swiss bank. FIFA is not a commercial company. So, what they have done together with the Swiss, they have created this attack towards FIFA and the president of FIFA,” he said.
“And you are from TASS and you know what are the problems between your country and the U.S. The FIFA World Cup or the FIFA president is a ball in the big political power game,” he said.
Blatter said Russia would “never lose the World Cup” which they are due to host in 2018 despite calls from some, especially in Britain, for the tournament to be taken away from them.
Denouncing England as “bad losers”, he said: “In Great Britain they have made this beautiful game, they have introduced fair play. But there was only one vote going for England. They were eliminated in the first round. Nobody wanted to have England”.
Blatter said Russia’s preparations for the tournament were going well and he had warm words for Putin whom he described as a “good friend of Joseph Josephovich”, referring to himself.
“You know what I like in Russia also is that in difficult situations I still have the full support of President Putin. This is good. And I support him in all discussions, in all situations,” he said.